Ventimiglia, Italia

Living near the French-Italian border has its perks.  For one, we get to enjoy living in  France while doing our food shopping in Italy!

And so today we went off driving to Ventimiglia for a trip to the supermercato (supermarket) and to the market to buy fish and veggies.  I must say,  what an immense delight to drive past verdant and staggering scenery of the  Roya Valley, after living in the winter grey and almost barren surroundings of Paris the past month or so.

 


This is the French side of the Roya Valley landscape as seen from our moving car.  Another way to enjoy this dramatic scenery is by train where the Nice-Ventimiglia-Cuneo railway line is dubbed as one of the most beautiful railways sceneries in Europe.


This is the Italian side approaching the coastal town of Ventimiglia

 The hills of Ventimiglia jutting out of the Mediterranean sea,
and the mountains behind  are that of France.

A man walking alone in Ventimiglia beach.

The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe –


View of the Old Town  (perched above) dominated by one of its several churches

A very Italianesque building located in the New Town below

A more modern residential building

Ventimiglia is a  palette of colours all year round

 Here, cacti (left) grow as tall as houses!

 In the summer, Ventimiglia beach gets packed with sunbathers and swimmers coming not only from Italy itself but also from France and all over Europe

The fishermen in this port supply the fish that makes Ventimiglia’s restaurants whiff of seafood dishes

The lemon and mimosa season are reflected in window displays!

 

This is a mimosa tree in bloom

The mimosa’s heavenly scented flowers bloom for only two weeks in February.

 

Winters are so mild in this part of Italy that eating in the open in February is possible

 

 Someone is peeking out of the window…


Of course we won’t leave Ventimiglia without stopping for pizza!

Vence, marvel of Provence

Garden of Vence, marvel of Provence
(Nostradamus, 1503 – 1566)

 

The first stop of our short stay in the Riviera is the historic town of Vence.   It is a place that holds a special spot in our hearts as we used to live there and because of H’s annual visit to his medicin, we get the opportunity to walk back memory lane, such as today.

The road to Vence has a certain kind of magic especially in the winter when snow-capped mountains of the Alps form a postcard backdrop.

Vence’s neighbour,  St Paul de Vence, above has been listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France, and hence, a favorite destination among artists, movie stars and celebrities from around the world.

 


The medieval town of Vence

It is a city of art and a favorite haunt of artists and writers.  Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, D. H. Lawrence, to name a few.

This is the Mairie or Town Hall

Facade of the 11/12th century Notre Dame de la Nativité

The hills surrounding the town,
and in the foreground is a reproduction of the 1961 work
of Jean Dubuffet entitled, La Vue sur L’Adret.

The stone steps to Chapelle Pénitents Blancs

The “Holy Bible” in the front yard of the Chapelle Pénitents Blancs

A Baroque-style lintel

Just one of the residential buildings in the old town

Bye Vence…see you again next year!

 

Driving the French motorway (at half-term holiday)

It was more than a week ago when we went driving the UK motorway for some errand;  this time, we had to cruise the French autoroute starting from Paris down to our home in the south of France.

According to our GPS, the drive takes about 9.5 hours, but in reality, it took us twelve long hours due to the almost snail-speed traffic on the first half of our journey.  It was the start of the Half-Term Holiday in schools and the first weekend of the Grand Depart – a kind of Exodus where Parisians leave the capital all at the same time to hit the road leading to the skiing resorts of the Alps. So while H drove the trailer-towing van, I was clicking my dear camera away!

I invite you to travel with me –


We left at about 6am, still dark, but after an hour of driving, we were rewarded with a beautiful scene of sunrise.


It was a foggy day and visibility was very low.

 

One reason for the traffic was due to an accident

You can tell it’s holiday time when car roof boxes are part of the motorway landscape.


Or skiing gadgets, if it’s the winter

Long traffic as far as the eye can see

Thre are castle signs for history buffs

 

Sometimes no signs are needed as you just drive past them!

Often, you have to look up high so as not to miss them

These castles are as old as the medieval age

These are farm castles perched high above vineyards

 

Some weird constructions crop up every now and then

 

As we drove closer to the High Alps, snow gets thicker and thicker


But approaching the Mediterranean sea, we see more and more boats on the way

 

Boats for the amateur or the pro

Or for the practicing yachtsman

Families have to equip the car for hyperactive kids

 

And the State has to equip the motorways  for all types of needs

 

 

This is the  Port of Lyon which dispatches and receives cargoes via one of the most important waterways in Europe, the Rhone river.

 

 

Every now and then we would stop to stretch our legs – just like this dog and his master

Or have our picnic at the tables provided at motorway stops

Our journey continues and we are blown away by the staggering architecture peeking from above

And before we know it, we arrive at the cypress-ridden south of France

where traces of medieval past still proudly stands

Welcome to the Cote d’Azur!

(It was getting dark, hence, the blurred shot!)

Theme: Umbrella (Part 2)

 

I have featured the Umbrella before as a Theme but I just like it so much that I am posting here a Part Two!

It’s been raining continuously in Paris but even then, the colourful array of umbrellas on the streets still make the capital very photogenic, mysterious and romantic.  Just rightly so that it was Valentine’s Day when I was doing my photoscouting that I couldn’t help but notice the people under these brollies and I thought they could make a great post for this rainy season.

 

 The lovelocks of Pont de l’Archevêché
makes a perfect backdrop for the brolly-totting romantics

Come rain or shine, these Salvador Dali followers will not let the weather stop them from visiting the works of the most strange personality of all time.
Centre Pompidou

A macaroon stopover is always a welcome respite when it’s raining in all might..

The umbrella is also a great fashion statement

When it’s raining, this skating rink infront of the Hotel de Ville gets deserted and it becomes a perfect spot for those in search of white tranquility.

These umbrella girls just wanna have fun!

With these rain protectors, a grey street is suddenly transformed into a colourful parading lane

Without the black brolly on the right, this scene would not appear as mysterious

An umbrella, a bicycle and a colourful shop facade – voila! a good setting for a film..


It’s a BLUE day in Paris

A golden umbrella next to a galden macaroon vitrine makes gastronomic fashion sense

and more fashion sense!

 

An umbrella can aid in making a couple gets closer

And  it could create a romantic photo to display on that long-been-empty wall space

 

 But if an umbrella is not practical with one’s sporting interest, there’s always the raincoat as alternative.

 

 Raincoat not only for the body but also for that expensive purchase – such as this one  from Longchamp!

(More Umbrella themes coming soon!)

 

 

Of studs and spikes

 

 

Everyone seems to be wearing studs and spikes these days and there’s no stopping it!  It’s now a fashion statement that is fast expanding its reach – from leathergoods to clothing  not only among fashionistas and haute couture houses but even extending to pets and household accessories!

 

 

I first noticed this fashion years ago, popularly worn by motorcycle riders who want to look cool in their stud-ridden black leather costumes and bags and I thought then that they belong to a breed that is best left alone as I somehow associate “studs and spikes” with something of a wild nature….

But big names of the fashion world have started incorporating studs into their products like these shoes of Christian Louboutin although personally, the  “wild” feel still exists…..

 

 So from one fashion designer to the other, the trend quickly exploded, such as these stilettos by Kurt Geiger.


Another pair from Kurt Geiger on display in his Covent Garden (London) boutique.


From window displays off to the streets, I now see them worn by practically every fashionista….


And they have invaded even the popular sneakers…

… and bags, too, are coming out in studs and spikes

… that even the high streets of Monte-Carlo have joined in the studded fun

Of course, like any other fashion, variation is a natural improvement of old things.  Now the wild feel is more subdued…


And they start getting colourful..


…..and finely chic….

Such demand for everything studded has grown to an all time high that you can even find them selling in souvenir shops!

But for those who are not into studding, there is also a wide choice of similar stuff, like this pearly heeled shoes…

But I suppose studs will always be more popular…

And rhinestones, too, for the more chic stud follower –   such as this skull phone aptly called the “head of death”

This vintage lipstick is a perfect addition to one’s stud collection

 

And to complete the fashion statement, you can stud-dress your pet dog, too!